Plugin Alliance has announced bx_subsynth, a processing plug-in built around the digital heart and soul of the discontinued dbx 120XP Subharmonic Synthesizer. Inspired by its subharmonic synthesis, Plugin Alliance partner Brainworx began by making a model of the dbx 120XP Subharmonic Synthesizer’s Waveform Modeling engine, which generates discrete bass frequencies one octave below whatever is fed into it.
This was the secret weapon of many DJs, audio post professionals, and mix engineers for adding clean and powerful low end to sounds while shaking anything and everything within earshot. But far from simply seeking to emulate what had gone before, Brainworx took to enhancing the feature set of the original processor from which it took that inspiration by implementing a whole host of additional features.
So how, exactly, does bx_subsynth do what it does and, more to the point, why does it do it so well? For starters, bx_subsynth generates subharmonics in up to three discrete frequency bands verses the original hardware’s two; the addition of a higher (56-80 Hz) Synthesized Frequency bass band for resynthesis — searching for the dominant frequency in the range of approximately 112-160Hz to synthesize a sub- octave from it — allows anyone to capture and nosedive the fundamental frequencies of a much wider variety of instruments, including snare drum and acoustic guitar. The Tight Punch control — a 6th-order resonant Butterworth high-pass filter at the input that can be used with or without the subharmonics summed in — creates clear, thumping bass by adding a resonant sub-bass peak and filtering out unwanted lows below its cutoff frequency. Powerful Edge processing permits selecting from two modes of operation — Smooth and Harsh — that compress and saturate tracks to deliver compact or trashy drums and throbbing, in-your-face bass guitar. Users can choose to process only the mid channel or both left and right channels, collapse the processed bass to super-tight mono, and stretch the stereo image.
Discrete frequencies generated by bx_subsynth set aside more space across the bass frequency band for other instruments, so sub-synth bass can be increased without muddying mixes. EQs cannot boost bass in a thin track that is lacking in bottom end to start with, whereas bx_subsynth does not just boost bass, but also adds new bottom end. Unlike psychoacoustic bass processors that trick the human brain into hearing ‘phantom’ subharmonics that are non-existent and cannot be physically felt, bx_subsynth adds real sub-bass.
Brainworx’s bx_subsynth is available now in the AAX DSP, AAX Native, AU, VST2, and VST3 flavors for Mac OS X (10.8 through 10.12), Windows (7 through 10), and Pro Tools 10.3.10 (or higher) Plugin Alliance for $149.